How to Pick the Best Plumbing Course near Northport Alabama
The first step to becoming a plumbing tradesman or contractor is finding a plumbing trade school near Northport AL. But with so many vocational schools to select from, just how do you approach making sure that you enroll in the right one? Particularly because there are so many points to evaluate. For instance, many prospective students will commence by searching for schools that are close to their residence. When they have identified some that are within commuting distance, they will choose the one with the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are important, they are not the only things that should be evaluated. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, along with their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifiers should help mold your ultimate judgment when selecting a plumber trade school. We will address that checklist in greater detail later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the instructional options that are offered.
What is a Plumber?
Almost everyone at one time or another has needed the services of a professional plumber. It may have been due to a leaky faucet or perhaps a hot water heater needed to be replaced. Plumbers provide a valuable service for the maintenance of both commercial and residential buildings. They are skilled tradesmen who are trained in the installation, repair and replacement of plumbing systems. These systems include pipes, plumbing fixtures, water based heating and cooling, sewage removal and sprinklers. A local Northport AL plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.
- Apprentice. The majority of Northport AL plumbers begin their careers as an Apprentice. Apprenticeships are often completed in tandem with a formalized plumbing training program. Apprentices are typically paid but unlicensed and work under the guidance of a licensed plumber during working hours and attend plumber training classes at night. The second phase of their career begins once the apprenticeship and the training program have been completed.
- Journeyman Plumber. Once the apprenticeship has been completed as well as any required training program, application for Journeyman Plumber licensing can be made. Most often licensing is controlled by the state but can be managed more locally at the county or city level. A Journeyman license will only be issued after all requirements have been met, including a passing score on the licensing exam. Even though a Journeyman is more knowledgeable and experienced than an Apprentice, they generally must continue to be supervised, in this case by a Master Plumber.
- Master Plumber. After attaining the necessary work experience and completing any additional educational requirements, the Journeyman can apply to become a Master Plumber. Once again a passing score must be achieved on the licensing exam before a license will be issued. There are several benefits to advancing to the Master Plumber level, including earnings at the highest pay level, unsupervised working conditions, and the ability to start and own a business. Master Plumbers may also hire and supervise both Journeymen and Apprentices.
As a technical field requiring a high level of skill and competence, plumbing can take years of both training and experience to master. As a consequence, the best opportunity for success for a new Apprentice in Northport AL is to enroll in a plumbing technology program that will provide the comprehensive quality training needed to embark on this challenging career.
Plumbing Degree and Certificate ProgramsThere are several educational options available near Northport AL to receive the necessary training to begin your career as a plumber. As far as the schools offering programs, you can enroll in a trade, technical or vocational school as well as a local community college. The programs offered will vary, but in general the shortest is the certificate program which will focus on the fundamentals and generally take about a year to complete. An Associate Degree will take 2 years to complete and will provide a more comprehensive education. There are some colleges that do offer a Bachelor Degree in plumbing technology, which are 4 year programs and much broader in nature. When choosing a school and program, naturally the completion time and the cost will be important factors. Tuition can vary significantly among the various schools and colleges and for some private schools can be quite expensive. State schools and community colleges typically offer their programs at the lower end of the tuition scale. However, when making your comparisons, keep in mind that many schools offer financial aid and even scholarships to help offset some of the financial burden. So be sure to find out what is available for each school and program before making your final decision.
Topics to Ask Plumber Vocational Schools
When you have made a decision to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to focus your training options. Since there are so many plumbing tech and trade schools in the Northport AL area, it's imperative to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must meet. The first two that we talked about were location and the cost of tuition. And even though both qualifiers may be crucial when making your determination, there are additional variables that need to be considered also. Following is a checklist of those added qualifications that you will need to analyze before enrolling in a plumber vocational school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Numerous plumbing technical programs have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance electrical technology. Verify that the Northport AL school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you receive a superior education, it may help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Also, some states require that the plumbing training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing or certification.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? Along with accreditation, an additional way of determining if a trade school you’re considering is reputable is by making sure that it’s properly licensed. Licensing is typically controlled and regulated by state agencies, such as the Alabama Department of Education. If you’re not sure, ask the school which state agency regulates its licensing and then verify that it’s up to date.
How Long has the School been in Business? Another means of determining the quality of a technical school is to find out how long it’s been in business. The longer a school has been in operation, the more likely that its programs are highly rated and regarded. Conversely, schools that are not well regarded or that provide low quality training generally don’t stand the test of time. However, keep in mind that even the best of Northport AL schools had to start from their first day of operation, so only use it as one of several qualifications for each school you are considering.
What are the School’s Completion and Placement Rates? Ask the plumbing schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate might indicate that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It might also indicate that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of contacts to help grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs in the Northport AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Most plumber technical programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Northport AL plumbers or plumbing contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Northport AL plumbing company if they can provide some suggestions.
Where is the School Located? Unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Northport AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's important that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with several of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Northport AL and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Northport AL, check that the programs you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Best Northport Plumber Trade School
Selecting the ideal plumbing training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to start your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a must that any plumber tech school that you are considering includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Each program offers different options for certification as well. Perhaps the best means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Northport AL.